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New wildfire totals: 300 homes destroyed

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This was the scene July 18 as fire raced along Balky Hill above Twisp. John Button of Twisp shot this photo from Twisp about 4 p.m., using a telephoto lens. The house at left, owned by Vikki and Ottis Buzzard, was spared because of a shift in wind direction and because an airplane dropped fire retardant in the area, said Vikki Buzzard. The house at right, near the flames, was destroyed.

OKANOGAN — Wildfires that went out of control late last week burned 300 homes, double the number that officials have estimated since last weekend.

The total increased because officials were able to get into the Twisp and Winthrop area in the past few days, said Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers. Until a few days ago, active fire in those areas kept officials from counting burned homes there.

You have to remember that we’ve got 800 miles of roadway for the whole fire footprint,” Rogers said.

Earlier counts included the lower Methow Valley. In Pateros, some 30 homes were lost, and at Alta Lake, 40 or more homes burned.

Today, National Guard troops are driving back roads, hoping to reach people who may need food and water. The sheriff said some people have felt they could not leave their property because of potential looters.

The Carlton Complex — the largest fire in state history — grew just 25 acres on Thursday as crews fight to gain containment in steep, rugged countryside. The blaze, which has burned about 250,500 acres, is now 55 percent contained.

Reach Dee Riggs at 509-664-7147 or .

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